It’s hard to know what personal resources the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the military commanders targeted by these sanctions own outside Iran that may be affected by these measures. Estimates of the Ayatollah’s wealth vary wildly from the US$500 thousand (CelebrityNetWorth.com in 2018) to the US$95 billion (Reuters in 2013 and TopRichets.com in 2019) and now the US$200 billion claimed by the US embassy in Baghdad.
“Khamenei, who was initially elected president of the nascent republic in 1981, has “possessions” valued at an estimated at $200 billion, according to a Facebook post by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad in April.”
Suffice to say, given the constant flow of propaganda that has been projected against Iran since the 1979 revolution, none of these sources can in anyway be taken as credible accountings of the Ayatollah’s real wealth – least of all the US embassy in Baghdad during a period when the propaganda is rising to high pitch and the US war drums are beating loud.
But that is surely not the point. A major part in announcing these sanctions is the inherent implication that Iran’s leaders have large personal financial assets outside the country that can be sanctioned. This sub-text is designed to discredit these leaders in the eyes of people in the west and also their own population. It fits the corrupt self interested despot narrative that demonises leaders of the US’s target nations.
Meanwhile, the US’s puppet dictators who do fit to this description (such as the fabulously wealthy House of Saud and the Sultans and Princes of the US support Gulf states, or the other brutal puppet despots the US has promoted and supported in Central and South America and across Africa) are blithely ignored – because this is how they are paid off for betraying their own people by selling the resources of their nations for a song to Western corporates and the elites that own them.
The sanction announcement itself can therefore be seen to be a device for the US regime playbook that forms part of the hybrid war being waged against Iran. By discrediting the leaders of Iran, the hope is that internal and expatriate Iranians will see the country’s leaders as tainted by corruption and not worthy of trust and support. This is designed to create and support internal dissention, protests and conflict, which are further encouraged through the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Iran that restrict access to necessaries such as medicines, vaccines and food items. The narrative so built supports the US’s assertion that intervention is a humanitarian endeavour bolstering their case for a “just war” among their own constituents and the peoples of allied nations the US wants to accede to and participate in the next set of military or economic actions against Iran that they have planned.
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